Cynthia Reyes Twigs in my Hair: A Gardening Memoir – a review by Ronald Mackay…


Reading this sweetly
nostalgic gardening memoir is like travelling delightfully in time.

Gardening is good for our health.

Nostalgia, like laughter, is infectious. Both add to our well-being when we are most in need.

The nostalgia evoked by the exquisite memories and photographs in Twigs in my Hair is a celebration of past experiences so significant that they are still very much part of the author’s most intimate present. Her reflections on the triumphs and beauty of past gardens provide writer and readerwith a well-spring of positive and life-affirming feelings.

While gardens provide the occasion for these recollections, the stories that Cynthia Reyes tells are steeped in profound and respectful relationships — relationships with mothers and husbands, her own and others’ children, close friends and considerate neighbours — and in cherished life events such asforging a career, courtship and marriage, and motherhood and professional responsibilities that span several decades.

The author has much to cherish from her growing up in the Caribbean to her several noteworthy and rewarding careers. All these and more are cherished within the warm memories of gardens.

This book is a panacea for those of us who have gardened all ourlives and find that while our love of plants and the soil remains undiminished, our gardening activities, like the author’s, are unavoidably shrinking. The infectious nostalgia that imbues this beautiful volume is the author’s unique lead in encouraging us to validate the present by celebrating the past and to findreconciliation for the future as our physical powers if not our secret aspirations inescapably decline.

Twigs in my Hair sweetly captures the emotional ambivalence that we often find in nostalgic memories, a sense of loss as well as an assurance of redemption. The chapters flow in a redemptive sequence which give way to a series of emotionally positive conclusions the final of which tells us:

“…above all, Gardens can help us to accept love and to love more deeply than we thought possible.

Any sense of loss is restored by the author’s message of beauty, meaningfulness, gratitude and the essential worthiness of life in and around gardens that we have loved, striven in and still adore.

Cynthia Reyes’ sequence of garden memories serve also as benchmarks in her fascinating biography, anecdotes well-worth remembering that honour the past, add confidence to the present and offer promise for the future.

Remembering gardens and the labour, manual and intellectual, that went into creating and maintaining them is equally good for our mental health once our physical prowess begins to wain.

Hence Cynthia Reyes book is a tonic to the soul, revisiting as it does the several gardens that the author has experienced since her childhood in Jamaica and created since establishing herself first as a leading journalist and broadcaster in Canada then as a business management consultant and most recently as anacclaimed author of children’s books and of memoirs.

As gardeners we have out own lived experiences. However, Cynthia Reyes’ memories capture all our common and cherished themes in a single, gentle volume.

available from Amazon:

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